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Austria Resumes Aid to Palestinians After Review Clears Funding

Austria announced the lifting of its suspension of aid to Palestinians on Thursday, just two days after the October 7 attack on Israel.

Austria announced on Thursday the end of its suspension of aid to Palestinians, a move it initiated just two days after the October 7 attack on Israel by the Hamas group. 

The suspension was implemented pending a thorough review to ensure the funds were not used to support or promote terrorism.

Reassessment and Findings:

Following the suspension on October 9, Austria conducted a comprehensive review of its aid projects. The examination focused on projects funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), totaling 17.5 million euros ($18.8 million). 

The Austrian Foreign Ministry, after concluding the review, stated that there was no indication of misuse of funds for terrorism or the dissemination of anti-Semitic content.

European Union and German Response:

Austria’s decision to freeze aid prompted Germany, a neighboring country, to also undertake a review of its aid to Palestinians. 

Simultaneously, the European Union initiated its investigation. Last month, the EU declared that there was no evidence of funds being diverted to support Hamas, ensuring the continuation of assistance.

Project Details and Geographical Distribution:

Austria’s review encompassed nine projects, but the statement did not specify the proportion situated in the West Bank. 

The West Bank is governed by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah movement stands in opposition to Hamas.

Ongoing Conflict and Humanitarian Concerns:

The October 7 attack by Hamas triggered a robust response from Israel, resulting in bombings and troop deployments in Gaza. 

Casualty figures from the Gaza Health Ministry and Israeli tallies indicate a significant loss of life on both sides. 

Amid the conflict, aid agencies warn of a deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, with the majority of its 2.3 million inhabitants facing severe shortages of essential resources.

Austria’s Political Stance and Pro-Israel Position:

Austria’s ruling coalition, led by the conservative People’s Party (OVP), has positioned the neutral country as one of the most pro-Israel members within the European Union. 

This stance evolved during the OVP’s previous coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, which has faced scrutiny for its historical associations. 

The OVP’s alignment with Israel has persisted, raising questions about Austria’s role in the ongoing Middle East conflict.

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